Career Management Personal Brand Self branding

Personal Branding Series | Interview with Christina Daniels, Author of “I’ll Do It My Way: The Incredible Journey of Aamir Khan”

Personal branding is built by amplifying your authentic voice. It takes a lot to build a personal brand. It is essential to discover your calling. So, how do you know you are connecting to your purpose? What must you do to be consistent in your pursuit? Which approaches work if you want to continue adding value? I am pleased to present the 4th episode of the Personal Branding Series with Christina Daniels, an author, Book Club Curator at Urban Solace Café and a City Guide for “History In Your Backyard”. I have known Christina for many years – as young professionals in the early part of our careers we discussed corporate intranets and how to make them relevant for employees. A communicator with over 17 years of experience, she attempts to live life to her fullest potential. During her career she has worked with NGOs, served as a journalist, build websites and intranets, marketed IT brands and engaged start-ups. Christina’s passion for her personal and professional pursuits is evident in her commitment and laser-sharp focus. Read the interview below and look up the You Tube video interview. Look up more such stories on my YouTube channel and on Linkedin.

  1. What according to you is personal branding?

Every day, we are living our personal brands. It is an important part of everything we do. How we tell stories and do it well is what matters.  I have been curating Bengaluru City Walks for those who want to explore lesser known neighborhoods. I see myself as a writer and won’t be known as one if I stop writing. Personal branding is the messaging which goes out to on social media and the real world.  Social media platforms are not enough – you need to have a balance between the real world and online.

2. Do you consider yourself a personal brand? How do you know it?

People recognize you when you are associated with a brand.  I am known first as a corporate storyteller and then an author. Personal branding isn’t defined by the volume of work you do. It isn’t enough for a couple of people to know you. When a lot turn to you for advice or see you as an influencer, you know you are a personal brand.

3. What does one do to go about building a personal brand?

Honestly, it was unconscious in terms of the process. The first part of the journey is about defining who you are and what you want to be associated with. Being there and doing work on the ground is important. Amplifying that work on more channels leads to building a personal branding. Identify the area you want to focus on and then work on each initiative as a step to gaining authority in that domain.  Writing a book was a step in that direction. The city guide initiative in Bengaluru was another step. Collaborating with journalist friends is yet another.

4.What are the attributes of a personal brand? And what do people associate your brand with?

To be being a corporate storyteller is more subliminal and not the first thing that strikes people about me. The branding is strong about me as an author, followed by book club curator and a guide on city walks. The ability to really get to the heart of the matter is crucial. You must have authenticity with your voice. If you want someone to get the heart of the issue, build it up with research and create a compelling story.

5. Based on your observations and learning who according to you is a personal brand?  What characteristics do you admire about them?

The way things work today, people can be different on different platforms. I can reflect on some people whom I have worked with the industry. For example, in the communications field, there is Melissa Arulappan who has built her personal brand by doing initiatives for the larger fraternity including the PR talks initiative. Karthik Srinivasan is another personal brand who has been active on social media and people listen with interest to his views. On Twitter, there is Ranjani Krishnakumar with whom brands want to be associated with even though she has maintained her own brand.  I also believe my uncle, Roy Daniel, an advertising professional was a personal brand in his own right. I learnt storytelling from him. During the last few years till the time of the death he continued to write on social media sitting in his home in Agra. People who had never met him but read his writing mourned his death.  

6. How do you know your personal brand is working?

According to me, there are two ways; when people reach out specifically on how to recreate what I did and when someone takes which I say and shares it is as an insight.

7. What challenges did you face while building a personal brand?

I faced the same challenges anyone unknown would face. Unless you are an Aamir Khan or a Priyanka Chopra with huge followings on social media and offline, it is always going to be an uphill task to establish yourself. For most personal brands, I think each time you venture into a new area you face the same challenges. If you are known as a writer and then you want to make films, it is considered a new area.  Likewise, on platforms – if you have a following on Facebook and then if you want to change to a new platform you will face obstacles.  It is important to get the first mover advantage. That way, you can connect with people sooner, establish a large base and are respected and valued for your views.

8.What techniques did you use?

To overcome the challenges, you need to consistently engage and speak with your audiences. There may be days when you get no response. Even on those days you need to continue engaging.  Today we have a lot of stand-up comedians who are currently popular, but they came up addressing empty rooms.  Make a connection with your audiences is the other technique I recommend.

9. What did you gain in the process? What did you lose?

The primary gain is a sense of self-belief. No matter what someone else says, you have a kind of conviction in your abilities when you are a personal brand and you know it. In the process of building a personal brand you lose fear and what others think of you as a person. However, you need to be yourself and do your thing.

10. How can someone starting from scratch build a personal brand? What is the first step he or she must take?

My advice is to that you must be out there, do something and do it consistently. If it is a big hit, then persist for a fair amount of time.  If it isn’t, stick to your purpose and plan.

11. If you had the opportunity to change something about the way you built your personal brand, what would that be?

I would write more often – in terms of books and tell more stories. I relied too much on the earlier success of book. The second point is to have had the first mover advantage and focus on platforms.

12. What is your recipe for personal branding success?

Stay relevant and be authentic.

13. Who according to you are personal brands whom others can follow and learn from?

From my uncle, Roy Daniels as he inspired me to tell stories. Whenever I tell a story, I always benchmark his ability to tell them.  Mellisa and Ranjani have built others and in the process they have built their brands. Karthik, has gone out there and tried to build a brand. It is sometimes not about saying a whole lot and then having radio silence. You need to keen sharing insights and engaging consistently.

14. With COVID19 and other crises what steps can personal brands take?

My motto is that, especially in a pandemic, you must be relevant and authentic and real. Be empathetic.

Liked this interview? Please do share your feedback and comments.

Keen to get ahead with your personal brand? Here are some resources:

Missed the earlier episodes? Read the interviews with Muqbil Ahmar, Tinu Cherian Abraham and Joseph Fernandez and share your thoughts.

Keen to join this Series and share your thoughts on Personal Branding? Write to me at [email protected]

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